Guest post: DigiLearn – Private channels in Teams enhances student engagement with group work.

Published by Caroline Carlin on

Author:  Claire Mellor, Lecturer in Cell Biology

Teams, set-up & channels

With Microsoft Teams now becoming the new go-to place for teaching at UCLan, many staff members are starting to think about the setup of their Module Teams. When it comes to group work (for example on one of my second-year modules PS2606 students create a group presentation around a pharmacological topic of their choice) the addition of a channel in Teams for each group is a great way to get the students to feel like that have their own space to  engage with each other, share work and even edit a document at the same time . You can see the set up for my PS2606 module below:

channel set up in teams

The PS2606 students engaged very well with the use of Microsoft Teams (also my third year FZ3602 module received a similar level of engagement). However, for second /Third year modules the students have had the time to get to know each other and the tutors.  When it came to group work with the first years (PS1604) there was a mixed response in terms of engagement, those students who are naturally confident seem to enjoy the use of Teams, however there were some groups where not much engagement was happening. One way I found to get around this “shyness” is to make the group channels private. This setting came in after I had already set up a lot of my module spaces (I was using Teams since September 2019) but I decided to recreate the private group space for those groups that were not engaging. See the print screen to the left to see the addition of the “private” group setting to group 11. Those groups that I tried this with had a positive response in terms of engagement.  By using the private setting students will get a sense of ownership over this space and will know that other students (apart from group members) will not see their ideas/discussion whilst the group work on putting together their final draft.

Discussion in posts in  private teams channel

How to set up a private channel in teams

 To set up a private channel in Teams first go to the “More options” dots found next to your Team name. Then select “Add channel”, here you will see the options to make the channel private! After you have set it to private you will be able to select which of your group members (students) have access to this private channel. See below for what the above looks like in Teams:

Setting up a private channel


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